Diversity on Display – The Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Vibrant prayer and singing, hands uplifted and enthusiastic preaching are all characteristics of the liturgies of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Within the Charismatic renewal is also an expectation of deep prayer and an intense love for Scripture and a serious acceptance of the call to conversion.  The vibrant liturgies and prayer gatherings of this movement express an openness and powerful awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Some have criticized the Renewal as too emotional or focused too heavily on personal experience and not enough on Church teaching. My own experience with the Charismatic Renewal has been more positive. Generally I find Charismatic Catholics to be very orthodox in belief and enthusiastic about what the Church teaches. The Charismatic preaching and teaching I have heard have good and solid substance, beyond mere emotional appeal. Like any movement there can be extreme interpretations of it by certain individuals but as a whole the Charismatic Renewal has been just that, a sign of renewal in the Church and an important help to the faith of those who are attracted to it. The vibrant liturgies may not be everyone’s cup of tea but my experience is that the liturgies are sincere and filled with the expectation that the Holy Spirit will “show up.”

My own parish is predominately African American in membership and while we don’t use the word Charismatic to describe how we celebrate many, if not most of the elements are there. Vibrant music, exuberant gestures and acclamations by many in the congregation, animated preaching and the expectation that the Holy Spirit will surely manifest himself.  And while not everyone shouts, not everyone stands or extends their hands, not everyone claps, but everyone makes room for the Spirit who will manifest Himself differently in each individual. Everyone has “permission” to be led by the Spirit.

Whether you like Charismatic worship or not, just remember that there are diversity of gifts, but the one Spirit who manifests them in all. An old song says, “King Jesus hath a garden full of diverse flowers.”

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